his week, in Dublin, about 500 Amnesty International delegates from more than 80 countries will vote on a proposal on prostitution that would recommend decriminalising both the selling and buying of sex, as well as pimping and brothel-keeping. The supposed logic is that gender equality exists to the extent that prostitution is a consensual act, but also that buying sex from women in prostitution is an important human right for some men to improve “their life enjoyment and dignity”.
As somebody who has worked for several decades with prostitutes, I know exactly what “consent” means in the context of the sex trade. The vast majority of women enter it in the absence of real choices. Many are children – or were children when they first supposedly consented to it.
Those who buy sex are the reason why violence and discrimination are part and parcel of the sex trade. They are the reason why younger and younger girls are trafficked into it and why organised crime is attracted to countries that decriminalise it.
Legalisation of the sex trade has failed spectacularly where it has been introduced. In Germany and the Netherlands, violence and trafficking have hugely increased. Both countries are now backtracking from previous policies. In New Zealand, according to a 2008 report, women in prostitution said they were no more likely to report acts of violence or access health services than before decriminalisation. …